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Golden Eagles Miss Big Opportunity, Fall To Stephen F. Austin

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Stephen F. Austin outscored Oral Roberts 15-2 over a span of 5:32, stretching from the first half to the second, a run that proved too much to overcome as ORU fell 77-67, Saturday night at Johnson Coliseum.

Damen Bell-Holter led ORU with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Warren Niles added 19 points, all in the second half. Shawn Glover scored 12 points, all in the first half, and played just 39 seconds in the second half before leaving the game with a cut near his eye.

After being held to just nine points in the first meeting, Taylor Smith exploded for 21 points, while Desmond Haymon added 17, nine points coming from behind the arc. Jacob Parker and Hal Bateman also got into double figures with 11 points apiece.

ORU shot 40 percent (21-52) for the game and 73 percent from the free throw line, missing on late opportunities to cut into the lead from the charity stripe.

SFA finished the game just shy of 50 percent (26-53) and hit six 3-pointers.

"It was a tough game," said coach Scott Sutton. "In the first half, we had chances. We got off to a good start but we just weren't able to hit shots. We let Smith get too deep on the offensive end. I thought we had a lot of success early with Damen and Shawn and then we got great looks we just didn't knock them down. You don't beat one of the best teams in the conference on the road, and you don't beat good basketball teams without making shots."

The Golden Eagles got exactly the start they wanted, jumping out 10-3 after back-to-back jumpers by Bell-Holter and Glover. The pair accounted for all 10 points in the early going.

SFA came back and took a 14-13 lead, the first lead for the Jacks since grabbing a 2-0 lead to start the game. ORU got back in front momentarily before an SFA 7-0 run put the Jacks up 21-15. It was the second lead change in the first six minutes of the game and would be the final change.

Down just two (28-26), all 26 points came from three Golden Eagles as Glover, Bell-Holter and Korey Billbury carried the offensive load in the first half. Outside of those three, only Niles had attempted a shot.

From that point, SFA went on a 10-2 run with ORU's only points coming from two free throws by Glover to make it a 38-28 game at halftime.

It wasn't until a Niles' 3-pointer with 16:30 to go in the game that someone other than those three scored a basket.

ORU finally got the 3-ball to drop and they hit three in a row, two from Niles and one from D.J. Jackson to cut a 45-30 lead down to 48-39. SFA had an answer for every basket ORU dropped in, and after a Haymon 3-pointer made it a 12-point advantage, the lead never got below 10 until the final two minutes of the game. A Niles basket made it a nine-point game (69-60) with 1:24 to go.

The Golden Eagles would not be able to get any closer as SFA hit free throws down the stretch to hold onto the lead and remain in sole possession of first place.

ORU will finish out its home portion of the schedule with a four-game homestand, starting on Valentine's Day as the Golden Eagles host Sam Houston State at 7:30 p.m. in the Mabee Center.

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